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Department of Work and Pensions "no idea about operation of flagship policy"

18 October 2017

The Work and Pensions committee receives a response from the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) answering some of the series of questions about the operation of Universal Credit over the last month.

Questions left unanswered

It is apparent that:

  • The department do not know about the characteristics of claimants who have waited over 6 weeks for a payment (or how much longer they waited), although "it is likely that it will be households with more complex circumstances" - ie likely those least able to wait longer
  • They are putting much faith in the advance payment system but can't say how many people applied, why applications were rejected or what share of their full award claimants got in advance

Chair's comments

Commenting on the response, Rt Hon Frank Field MP, Chair of the Committee, said:

"I am pleased, finally, to receive an answer to some of our questions. I am alarmed, however, by the response.

The Department has no idea about the operation of its flagship policy. For example, they do not know how many people are waiting 8, 10, 12 weeks for payment, or why.

They don't and cant know if it's going right or wrong. It beggars belief that they decided to press ahead on this collision course totally in the dark. 

This week the Programme Director dismissed a JCP whistleblower's concerns as "anecdote and opinion", saying he "favoured research and evidence". In our evidence session today I will ask him exactly what research and evidence he was talking about."

Further information

Image: iStockphoto